Fabre to spike British challenge
Galileo Gold and Ribchester dominate the market for the Marois, but our Ian Ogg believes there's good reason to take them on.
Andre Fabre could land a record-equalling seventh Marois
In 2014 Kingman became only the second horse to complete the Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois double and only the first to do so in the same season.
The two contests are relatively close together and it's a double that few horses have been asked to attempt.
Prior to Kingman, Noverre was the last Sussex winner to head to France in 2001 but he could finish only fourth (later promoted) while Major Cadeaux finished third in both races in 2008. In 2013, Dawn Approach and Declaration of War – both placed in the Sussex – lined up and finished fifth and fourth respectively.
Last year, only Belardo contested both races and finished seventh in both.
We do not, of course, have the winner of the Goodwood contest lining up but we do have the second and third who dominate the market and it does beg the question as to whether they can rise to the challenge of another Group One contest just two weeks later.
Understandably at this stage both Hugo Palmer and Richard Fahey are confident that their colts will prove up to the challenge and are taking their racing well but we should expect nothing less. This is a Group One after all and they would be unlikely to risk their stable stars should they believe their three-year-olds are any less than 100%.
Whether their optimism actually proves to be well-founded is another matter entirely and they would not be the first to find less than expected when asked to go to the well again.
Esoterique provided Andre Fabre with a sixth Marois in testing ground 12 months ago (when this year's Sussex sixth Lightning Spear was back in fourth) and lines up again, alongside Vadamos, as Fabre attempts to equal Francois Boutin's record of seven triumphs in the race.
It has not worked out for Esoterique this season and conditions here may play less to her strength than others but she has a fine record at this course with last month's Prix Rothschild fourth easily excused after she stumbled at the start.
She could easily bounce back, but it's Vadamos, who has been reinvented as a miler since joining Fabre, who provides the main challenge according to the market. He comfortably accounted for the re-opposing Ervedya before getting stuck in the mud behind A Shin Hikari but he bounced back from that disappointment to impress in a Group Three last time.
His trainer's words are ominous for the opposition.
"Vadamos is an impressive horse, both to the eye and the way he performs in morning work," he said recently.
"I was delighted with his latest gallop and as he's proved himself at Group Three and Group Two level, I'm optimistic he can now bridge the divide to becoming a Group One winner."
A general 13/2 chance, he doesn't look at all a bad each-way bet for a colt who looks to have been prepared specifically for this race and for a master trainer who has such an excellent record in the contest.
The ground is unlikely to be quick enough for poor old Arod who may not quite know whether he's coming or going. Sent to Australia for the Cox Plate over 10 furlongs, he didn't run too badly over a mile on his reappearance but was then sent to the July Cup for his first crack at sprinting. Now back up to a mile in top-level company, connections have reached for cheekpieces – he will need more than that aid.
Of more interest are the underrated pair of Stormy Antarctic and Dicton.
Ed Walker, whose team are in good form, has been patient with the former who was palpably not himself in the 2000 Guineas. He didn't return until the start of last month when a good second in the Prix Jean Prat but he will need to improve again to win this – even if Galileo Gold and Ribchester don't fire – and that seems unlikely.
Dicton's well documented rise has been remarkable and his last two runs have proved that he belongs at this level. The form of The Gurkha's win in the Poulains – in which Dicton was third – has (the winner aside) had it's knockers but Jean Prat winner Zelzal was only 11th, French Derby second Zarak was fifth while the seventh, ninth and 10th have all won Group Threes.
Dicton himself was by no means disgraced in third in the French Derby having come from a long way back but there will be no need to adopt such tactics back over a mile.
He may lack the star appeal of the market principals but he is not a 25/1 shot to my eye.
He is worth a throwaway pound but I shall be putting a little bit more aside for Vadamos in the hope that Galileo Gold and Ribchester left their races in Sussex.